All posts by dscales24

I am a wife, mother, and grandmother who enjoys sharing life experiences through writing short, lighthearted articles. These are intended to entertain, inspire, motivate, and inform my readers. I hope to receive responses in which readers tell me if they relate to the articles and share with me ideas that my writings generated in them.

OKAY, OKAY

Dan and I are in Hawaii.

Allow me to get this out of the way first: Hawaii is beautiful. The colors, scents, and waters are all magnificent. People are friendly.

Here is the problem.

Road/street names are impossible to pronounce, much less remember.

This has led to some one-of-a-kind conversations between Dan and me.

Dan:  What was the name of that road we took to Rainbow Falls?

Debbie:          Hmmmm. Did it rhyme with bikini?

Dan:               No, not that one.

Debbie:          Was it a long name?

Dan:               No. Only about 12 letters, as I recall.

Debbie:          Was it the name of a queen or king?

Dan:               No, I don’t think so.

Debbie:          Was it that Kamahamahamahamaha-something road?

Dan:               Could have been.

Debbie:          Then that was a queen or king road, Dan.

Dan:               It had kiki in it somewhere, I think.

Debbie:          Did it have those upside-down apostrophes in it?

Dan:               Yes, and a hyphen, I believe.

Debbie:          Something, something, something poo-poo?

Dan:               No, it had a k in it.

Debbie:          They all have k’s in them.

Dan:               It might have been Kaholo.

 Debbie:          No, Dan. That’s the name of the boy at the airport.

Dan:               Kapa-kapa?

Debbie:          No. That’s a kind of grape.

Dan:               Koali Li?

Debbie:          The flower we said looks like a morning glory.

Dan:               There’s a sign: Lio Hadway Pikonia Loop. Could that be it?

Debbie:          Looks to me like that just goes into a neighborhood.

Dan:               Wait! There it is! Waianuenue Avenue.

Debbie:          Where’s the k in that, the hyphen, the upside-down apostrophe?

Dan:               Well, I thought it had those things in it.

Debbie:         I can’t help you if you give me bad information. Let’s eat.

Dan:               Okay. What is the name of that restaurant we like?

Debbie:          I can’t remember. I think the name starts with a k.

Those Were the Days

One summer evening, by the light of a dim kerosene lamp, my Great Aunt Alta (pronounced Altie in the South) told me a story.

The story was about the worst whipping her dad ever gave her.

I watched Aunt Altie’s brown, wrinkled face in the glow of the lamplight. Snuff had stained her teeth, and she massaged her gums with a little, chewed stick she almost always had in her mouth.

“Well,” she said, “One day I rode a horse to my friend’s house. I must have been about 12.

While I was there, we got the idea to cut the sleeves off the dresses we were wearing. We had seen short-sleeved dresses in pictures, and we liked them.

Oh, we were pretty proud of ourselves,” she said, and she cackled.

“Our arms were pasty white, of course, because we always wore long sleeves.

I rode home wearing that dress.

Dad was in the front yard, and he looked up when he heard me come riding in.

He pulled me off that horse and whipped me with the horse’s rein. Then he ordered me into the house to put on something decent.”

I thought about Aunt Altie this morning as I went for my walk. (3,190 steps before 9:00 a.m.)

I wore a sleeveless top on this walk.

I avoid wearing sleeveless tops most of the time. Not out of modesty but out of vanity. My upper arms are flabby.

They haven’t always been so. Here is a picture of me in high school, back when I never gave a thought as to how my arms looked.

My Aunt Altie and Uncle Art lived across the road from my family, and they played a big role in my growing-up years.

They refused to believe, in July 1969, a man had walked on the moon. The news clip of Neil Armstrong stepping out onto what looked like the surface of the moon was filmed in a Hollywood studio, they said.

In the early 1970s, Daylight Savings Time was introduced and incorporated into the lives of most Americans. Uncle Art and Aunt Altie refused to reset their clocks.

“We’re staying on God’s time,” they said.

It caused them problems, mostly with television shows. They didn’t own a TV at the time, but they walked across the road to watch our TV some evenings.

It irked them no end the first time they walked into our house to watch The Waltons, only to find the show had already ended.

Aunt Altie was superstitious. You wouldn’t catch her opening an umbrella in the house, laying a hat on a bed, or walking under a ladder.

Once when I had a stye on my eye, she swore she could make it go away.

“Go stand in the middle of the road,” she said.

“Then say out loud: ‘Stye, stye, leave my eye. Catch the next one who comes by.’”

 I followed her instructions.

I don’t remember if the stye left my eye or not, but I felt guilty soon after that incantation when Gene and Shirley Robbins, with their little boy, Tex, “came by” in their old blue pickup.

I avoided the Robbins family for a week or so. I never knew which one of them got the stye. I hoped it wasn’t little Tex.

Uncle Art and Aunt Altie had grandkids living in Kansas. Duane (my age) and Judy (my younger sister’s age) made great playmates when they came for extended visits.

Duane was amazing! He could run further and faster on a dirt road barefooted than anyone else I knew.

He was brave too. He once ate a pokeberry right in front of me, after I had just told him it would kill him.

The pokeberry didn’t kill him, but he died in a car wreck before he was 30. I still miss him.

Though I wasn’t supposed to know this, Uncle Art was a drinker.

It wasn’t easy to come by liquor where I lived. Ours was a “dry” county. But now and again Uncle Art found someone to drive him to the state line where he could buy booze.

When this happened, he stayed away from home for a few days.

Aunt Altie didn’t like to stay by herself at night, so my parents commissioned me to spend those nights with her.

It was on one of these overnight visits, I’m sure, when I heard the story about the whipping.

Young girls staying with lone women at night was not uncommon in those days where I grew up. We provided no protection. Just a bit of company to ward off loneliness.

I also stayed overnight with a woman whose husband was a preacher. When he went away somewhere to hold weekend gospel meetings, I stayed with his wife.

She was a wonderful old woman. Jewel was her name.

She drank her coffee from a tin can because, she said, it kept the coffee hotter longer.

She studied her Bible daily and took notes, writing them in blue ink around the edges of the articles in The Gospel Advocate.

Doesn’t she have notebook paper? I wondered.

She fed me scrambled egg sandwiches for supper, and we played Hully Gully, a game played with dried kernels of corn.

Jewel herself was as wonderful a person as her name, though she had a slight mustache.

I rode my bike to her house when I spent the night. Sometimes she gave me a quart of fresh cream in a Mason jar to take home to Mom.

“Now, if you ever feel like you are about to turn over on that bike,” she said, “or are about to wreck it, throw that glass jar as far as you can. I don’t want you to get cut on broken glass.”

How I wanted an opportunity to throw that Mason jar of fresh cream! It would be exciting, heroic in a way, and would make a good story to tell my friends.

Alas, I never had that chance. The bike, the jar of cream, and I always made it home intact.

I hope my readers aren’t expecting a strong punch line at the end of this narrative. I have none.

I do advise women to wear sleeveless tops when they are young, though, if they plan to wear them at all.

And, remember this: You, today, are creating memories for children who will grow to be adults, like us.

One day, they will set out to do something ordinary, like take a walk.

Then they will think of you, and the next thing they know they will be strolling down Memory Lane.

Make it a nice walk.

 

BEING KIND

 

Being kind is more important

Than getting things right,

Than snagging the window seat on a long plane flight.

 

Than getting that prime, much desired parking space

Another driver took right in front of your face.

 

Than getting the biggest piece of strawberry cake

Your cousin grabbed first at the picnic by the lake.

 

Being kind is more important

Than getting to have the last word

In the argument that half the neighborhood heard.

 

Than getting to correct another person’s grammar

With the grace and subtlety of a noisy sledgehammer.

 

Than getting to tell “that stupid driver” off

When he navigates a rude and intentional cutoff.

 

Being kind is more important

 Than getting the big prize,

Or having a nicer house than the other guys.

 

Than getting the acclaim of being the best,

In a world where you think everything’s a contest.

 

Than getting your mate to say, “You’re right. I was wrong.”

So he can seem weak, and you can feel strong.

 

Being kind is more important

 Than getting praise for your knowledge

From someone who missed out on going to college.

 

Than getting the promotion or winning the game

So some other person can experience some shame.

 

Than getting to be the standout queen or king.

Being kind is more important than getting anything.

 

WATER

When I was a little girl . . .

“Oh, no!” I hear readers shouting. “Not another one of her ‘When I was a little girl’ stories!”

I begin again.

When I was a little girl, I had everything I needed.

My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other people in my community loved me.

I was never without food, clothes, a clean bed, a place to go to school, books or anything else a child needs.

But I lived in an area where everyone lived on the cusp of being without one of life’s necessities: water.

I grew up in rural north Arkansas. We experienced a drought every summer.

People’s lawns were crispy instead of lush. Plants in vegetable gardens shriveled and died. Stock ponds went dry. Creeks turned into cracked beds of dirt. Lake Norfork grew wide beaches.

Every summer, the main topic of conversation was rain.

Though the sky sometimes grew dark and threatened, the rain almost always skipped over us, and watered other lawns, gardens, ponds, creeks and lakes.

My family had a “dug” well, not a “drilled” well.

Our well had been dug many years earlier by people using shovels. After the diggers reached below the level of the water table, they lined the well with stones to keep it from collapsing.

The well was then covered, and water could be drawn from it using a bucket and chain.

Many people had dug wells. Some of those wells had legends associated with them.

It was said that an angry fiancée had thrown her engagement ring into our well when her boyfriend wronged her in some way. We never saw the diamond ring. I doubt it was ever there.

Water from this well was pumped into our house to meet all our water needs, except in the summer during the inevitable drought.

Then, our well ran dry.

Every summer.

A summer drought was as certain as gravity.

Drilled wells were much deeper and were dug with powerful machines. People who had drilled wells never ran out of water.

Every summer Dad said, “I’ve got to have a well drilled.”

But he didn’t.

So, when our well ran dry, we “carried” water in barrels, washtubs, and buckets from the homes of neighbors who had drilled wells.

It was a miserable situation.

We suffered from this lack of water, especially Mom, who did all the cooking, cleaning, laundry, bathing of the children and “carrying” of the water.

My siblings and I took our baths in teacups.

When we saw a lush lawn or thriving vegetable garden in the dead of summer, we said, “Someone has watered it.”

Living things require water. Some plants and animals require less water than other plants and animals.

And, out of necessity, some people survive on less water than others.

Some form of the word water (watered, watering, etc.) appears over 600 times in the NIV Bible. (Thank you, Bible Gateway.)

In the Old Testament, the word usually refers to physical water.

In the New Testament, water is sometimes used literally.

Matthew 3:16 reads, As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water.

Jesus walked on water, the disciples fished in water, a Samaritan woman went to a well to draw water, Jesus turned water into wine, Pilate washed his hands in water.

Jesus said, “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward” (Matthew 10:42).

Jesus also used the word water figuratively.

“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them” (John 7:38).

Physical water gives physical life. Spiritual water gives spiritual life.

Water is a powerful metaphor for love.

When I see happy, healthy, thriving children, I think, Someone has watered them with love.

In fact, thriving people of any age have been watered with love.

No one thrives without love.

I encourage you today to be a waterer.

Give someone a bottle of cold water.

Tutor a child.

Comfort a crying baby.

Visit a lonely neighbor.

Smile at a harried cashier.

Give over a parking space.

Share a cookie.

Water everyone you know with love.

PRECISELY

Facebook is a repository of both trash and treasures.

Almost every day I find there a golden nugget: a funny story or an inspirational quote that I forward to friends.

Other postings on FB make me cringe. Here is one from www.ign.com.

SUSIE LEE DONE FELL IN LOVE;
SHE PLANNED TO MARRY JOE.
SHE WAS SO HAPPY ‘BOUT IT ALL,
SHE TOLD HER PAPPY SO.

PAPPY TOLD HER, “SUSIE GAL,
YOU’LL HAVE TO FIND ANOTHER.
I’D JUST AS-SOON YO’ MA DON’T KNOW,
BUT JOE IS YO’ HALF BROTHER.”

SO SUSIE PUT ASIDE HER JOE                                                                        AND PLANNED TO MARRY WILL,
BUT AFTER TELLING PAPPY THIS,                                                                    HE SAID, “THERE’S TROUBLE STILL.

YOU CAN’T MARRY WILL, MY GAL,                                                             AND PLEASE DON’T TELL YO MOTHER.
BUT WILL AND JOE, AND SEVERAL MO’                                                           I KNOW IS YO’ HALF BROTHER.”

BUT MAMA KNEW AND SAID, “MY CHILD,
JUST DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY.
MARRY WILL OR MARRY JOE.
YOU AIN’T NO KIN TO PAPPY.”

I did not cringe because I am a Holier-Than-Thou who finds no humor in silly rhymes.

I still laugh at Ray Stevens’ funny song, I’m My Own Grandpa.

This poem made me cringe because I was raised in the Ozarks, a place where, as in parts of Kentucky, West Virginia, etc., residents are termed rednecks or hillbillies.

Crude poems like this one are assumed to have come from such people: lazy, unintelligent, ill-mannered, cousin-marrying hill folk.

At one time I was embarrassed because I grew up in the Ozark Mountains.

Today I am embarrassed that anyone bears an ugly label because of where he grew up.

My ancestors were countrified, yes. But they were hard-working, intelligent, trustworthy people for whom I offer no apologies.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my paternal grandmother, Eva (Crotts) James.

Today I am writing about my maternal grandmother, Gracie (Shoemate) Stephens.

Just as my Grandma James’ life was a study in strength, my Grandma Stephens’ life was a study in precision.

Grandma Stephens sewed the straightest stitches in the county. Whether done by hand or by machine, her work was flawless.

Grandma made clothes without using “store-bought” patterns. She looked at a pretty dress worn by another woman, did some calculating, and made dresses like it for herself and her daughters.

When she was a little girl, Grandma was given a threaded needle to practice sewing, but the thread had no knot at the end. Every seam she sewed could easily be pulled out of the fabric.

When her stitches became even and her seams were straight, she knotted her thread and quilted with the adult women.

She showed the same precision in everything she did.

She made flowers from crepe paper and tissue to decorate family graves on Memorial Day.

The silky-smooth chocolate gravy she made had her 16 grandkids licking their plates.

Her cornbread dressing is a family legend. (I have that recipe in Grandma’s handwriting.)

Grandma would have needed to stand on her toes to measure five feet tall.

But she was a giant to me.

She had a keen intellect, was an avid reader, and held firm political views.

In fact, Grandma and Grandpa often disagreed politically.

On election day, Grandpa dutifully walked a mile down a dusty dirt road to the voting site to cast his vote.

An hour or so later, Grandma often traveled the same road and voted for Grandpa’s candidate’s opponent.

We teased them, saying they could accomplish the same thing by just staying home on election day.

As you can see, it is hard for me to write about Grandma without also writing about Grandpa.

My grandparents had seven daughters. No sons.

Five of the girls grew to be loving mothers themselves. One of them was my own mother, of course, and the other four my sweet aunts.

Grandma and Grandpa buried two baby girls, each dying of infections that are easily cured today by antibiotics.

My grandparents were churchgoers.

Their big, red-edged King James Bible had its chapters marked with Roman numerals.

I had to work hard to find chapter 62 of Isaiah in that Bible.

Grandma and Grandpa had access to a traveling library.

A librarian left books on loan at the general store. Then, after a few weeks, she picked up those books and replaced them with others.

Grandpa read every Zane Grey novel the little library offered, and Grandma read novels by Christian authors like Grace Livingston Hill.

They didn’t have much formal education, but they learned from their reading.

If Grandma heard someone say of a topic, “I could care less,” she said, “No, dear, you couldn’t care less.”

(Her habit of correcting grammar alone made Grandma a hero in my book.)

She detested steamy romance shows on television.

TV couples depicted sharing a passionate kiss looked to her “like two people fighting over a piece of meat.”

Grandma was one of those people who didn’t realize how funny her stories about herself were until her listener(s) laughed out loud after hearing them.

One story was about the day she tried to ignite her gas oven’s pilot light with a match.

I can picture her now, stooped low in front of her oven, waving a lighted match under the appliance in search of its pilot light.

The next second, her tiny body landed about five feet behind where it had started, seated on its bum in the next room.

Another one of Grandma’s funny stories is documented by a photo.

A black snake had been stealing eggs from the henhouse.

Grandma tied a fishhook to the end of fishing line, pushed it inside an empty eggshell, and put the eggshell into a hen’s nest.

Mr. Snake bit, and he was caught.

Here Grandma displays her trophy. (This picture is blurry because the snake was swaying, and because the photo is a copy of a copy.)

When Grandma and Grandpa’s girls were little, their house burned. The family was not at home. The only things that survived the fire were a few pieces of furniture and the clothes drying on the line.

A neighbor drove a flatbed truck through the countryside and collected donations of clothes and household items so the family could get back on its feet.

Mom wore to school dresses she had seen classmates wear, but there was no shame in that.

Times were hard.

Grandma and Grandpa planted a big garden every summer. Vegetables were canned or frozen.

Fruit was sliced into pieces and dried on flattened flour sacks on the roofs of the tool shed and smokehouse.

Grandpa worked for years at a sawmill. He came home each evening toting the empty gallon jar he had used to carry drinking water. His blue work shirt was whitened all over by sweat stains.

His lunch he carried to work in a lard bucket: two sandwiches made of biscuits and ham leftover from breakfast.

Not every man was willing to do the hard work required to provide for his family.

Grandpa described such a man this way. “Let’s just say if he had a third hand, he would have needed another pocket to put it in.”

The wives and children of these lazy men benefited from the food and firewood Grandpa took to their houses so they could eat and stay warm.

Grandma was a seamstress and Grandpa was a whittler. They were both masters of their crafts.

I have samples of their work: quilts made by Grandma; and a cedar spoon, fork and knife whittled by Grandpa.

I remember Grandpa smelling of cedar, Lava hand soap, and Old Spice aftershave.

I sat often in Grandma’s kitchen with my eyes closed, identifying by scent the spices in her spice drawer.

Grandma made wonderful meals, but she was no short-order cook. Family and guests ate what was put on the table.

If someone complained about not liking the food, Grandma remained seated and pointed to a jar of peanut butter and a loaf of bread on a kitchen cabinet top.

In a conversation with relatives recently, I heard one of them remark that Grandma was not especially affectionate.

That statement stopped me cold.

“What?” I thought. “Grandma wasn’t affectionate?”

But upon reflection, I now realize Grandpa was the hugger, the one who swept grandbabies up in his arms and kissed their slobbery, chubby faces.

It was Grandpa who, every weekend I was home from college, came by to see me on Saturday morning, often rousing me out of bed at 10:00 o’clock.

Mom, my baby sister, and I lived with my grandparents when Dad was serving overseas in the Air Force.

Our presence stretched the seams of their little house because my mom’s three younger sisters were still living at home.

There Grandpa existed as the only male among seven squawking, high-strung females.

I remember standing beside their huge brown radio each morning, listening either to a man quoting cotton and soybean prices or to Elvis Presley singing Blue Suede Shoes, depending upon which adult had chosen the station.

I stood by that radio because it sat near the window through which I could look out and yell to my teenage aunts, “The school bus is coming!”

Grandpa spent half his earnings on Bobby pins, saddle oxfords, and face cream for the big girls, and storybooks and crayons for my little sister and me.

But on the day the three of us moved out because Dad had left the military and bought us a house, Grandpa said to Mom, “The only reason I’m letting you take these two little girls away from here is because they belong to you.”

He would have kept us forever.

And Grandma would have too. With fewer hugs and kisses maybe, but with no less love.

A friend who lived near me said she locked herself inside the family car whenever her grandfather visited, so he “couldn’t get at her.”

What did that mean? I wondered when I was a little girl.

Today I know exactly what that meant, and I am beyond furious.

Life isn’t fair.

Why was I born into a wonderful family who treasured me, and she had a grandpa who was a piece of scum and a family who tolerated his vileness?

The answer to that question is unknowable.

But I do know this.

I couldn’t care less where a person comes from.

It’s the people a person comes from who make all the difference.

 

 

 

 

 

HELD HOSTAGE BY A SEWING MACHINE

I have a long and hateful history with sewing machines.

When I was a little girl, my mother made my dresses. They were lovely works of art.

I wanted to be the seamstress my mother was.

When I was about 12, I began sewing simple dresses for my baby sister.

I was not then, am not now, and never will be the seamstress my mother was.

I once put in a zipper both upside-down and backward.

As an adult, I have approached sewing machines with trepidation.

For years I didn’t sew anything that required the use of a machine.

I was afraid of it.

I knew I would never sew again unless I obligated myself to do so.

So, I obligated myself.

I invited my 10-year-old granddaughter, Sparkle, over to make a doll dress.

That forced me to uncover the machine, set it up, and test it.

Success!

Sparkle and I made this little dress, and we both felt proud.

No longer does my sewing machine hold me hostage.

I plan to help my seven-year-old granddaughter sew a pillow.

Many of us bow to a fear of something.

Several years ago, I prepared a dinner and took it to a friend who had recently lost his wife.

I instructed him to microwave the food when he was ready to eat it.

“I can’t use the microwave,” he said. “Peggy used it all the time, but I’m afraid of the thing.”

Other people are held hostage by airplanes; deep water; loud, opinionated relatives; elevators; bullies at work; and big life changes.

These things themselves do not make one’s heart palpitate and hands tremble.

It is the fear of them

Fear kept me from my sewing machine for years.

That is what fear does.

It stops us.

Fear of navigating in downtown Indianapolis stops me driving north of Southport Road.

Fear of learning new programs prevents me from fully utilizing my computer.

At one time, I was afraid to speak in front of groups of adults.

I love the English language and relish opportunities to teach it, especially to adult learners.

Muhammad met the mountain when I was offered a position to teach at Indiana Business College in the early 1990s.

My passion for English and my desire to teach came up against my fear of speaking to crowds of adults.

My passion and desire helped me push through my fear.

I taught English grammar and composition to adults for five years.

If I develop enough passion and desire, I will overcome my fear of driving in downtown Indianapolis and of learning new skills on my computer.

When we are afraid of something, we respond in one of three ways:

  • We avoid it. (I don’t have to drive in Indy or learn new computer programs.)
  • We can get someone else to do it. (Thank goodness for friends and family.)
  • We can push past the fear and find a way to do the thing.

Maybe you fear nothing and nobody. If so, good for you.

Most of us don’t live in your world.

If you have a fear that holds you hostage, consider your options.

You have three.

 

CAN I BORROW THAT A SEC?

When a friend asks to borrow a tissue, I say, “Here, take one. I don’t want it back.”

While a handkerchief is loaned or borrowed, a tissue is not.

Cautions against borrowing and lending go back centuries.

In Act I, Scene III of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Polonius counsels his son Laertes, “Neither a borrower nor lender be.”

The oft-quoted Benjamin Franklin warned: He that goes a borrowing goes a sorrowing.

But we borrow and lend all kinds of things: cups of sugar, lawnmowers, umbrellas, cars, and money.

Yet, a few things we refuse to lend, even though they may be “lendable.”

My favorite refillable pen, I do not lend.

I have a beautiful old bowl that belonged to my Great-Grandma Shoemate. It is pink and may be Depression glass. Whether it is or isn’t, I won’t lend it.

I own a hardback copy of Praise the Human Season by Don Robertson. It is one of my favorite novels.

My mom “bargained” with a neighbor to buy the book for 25 cents. (The neighbor didn’t want the book for herself but didn’t want to give it away.)

The book cost my mother 25 cents, but it is worth much more than that to me.

In fact, I will lend that book only to people I would be willing to lend $1,000.

And, of course, some things should never be lent or borrowed: identification cards, urine samples, and spouses, for example.

Surely the most unlikely thing to loan is a grave.

Yet, the body of Jesus was placed inside a borrowed tomb.

In the Old Testament, an Israelite was required to make restitution if he borrowed an animal, tool, or other item and then lost or damaged it.

In 2 Kings 6, an account is given of an incident in the life of the prophet Elisha.

He and students of the School of the Prophets were building a new meeting place near the Jordan River.

As one man worked to cut down a tree, the iron axe head he used fell into the water.

“O no, my Lord,” the man cried out. “It was borrowed.”

Had the axe head belonged to the student prophet himself, its loss would have been great. But since it was borrowed, its value was increased.

Under the Old Law, the appropriate response for the borrower of the axe head would have been based upon the following verse.

Exodus 22:14: If a man borrows anything from his neighbor, and it is injured or dies while its owner is not with it, he shall make full restitution.

Some commentators suggest that replacing a borrowed axe head in that day would be equivalent to replacing a borrowed car today.

Many fights, divorces, and lawsuits ensue when adequate restitution is not made.

Restitution is defined as the act of restoring, as in restoration of something to its rightful owner.

Restitution is a common theme in the Bible.

Read Exodus 22 and Leviticus 6 for examples of God’s laws governing restitution under the Old Law.

The New Testament records a beautiful account of restitution in the story of Zacchaeus.

Luke 19:8-9:Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!”

Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”

An article found at www.gotquestions.org  sums up the exchange between Zacchaeus and Jesus this way:

From Zacchaeus’s words, we gather that 1) he had been guilty of defrauding people, 2) he was remorseful over his past actions, and 3) he was committed to making restitution.

From Jesus’ words, we understand that 1) Zacchaeus was saved that day and his sin was forgiven, and 2) the evidence of his salvation was both his public confession (see Romans 10:10) and his relinquishing of all ill-gotten gains.

Zacchaeus repented, and his sincerity was evident in his immediate desire to make restitution. Here was a man who was penitent and contrite, and the proof of his conversion to Christ was his resolve to atone, as much as possible, for past sins.

The same holds true for anyone who truly knows Christ today. Genuine repentance leads to a desire to redress wrongs. When someone becomes a Christian, he will have a desire born of deep conviction to do good, and that includes making restoration whenever possible.

The idea of “whenever possible” is crucially important to remember. There are some crimes and sins for which there is no adequate restitution.

In such instances, a Christian should make some form of restitution that demonstrates repentance, but at the same time, does not need to feel guilty about the inability to make full restitution.

Restitution is to be a result of our salvation—it is not a requirement for salvation. If you have received forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus Christ, all your sins are forgiven, whether you have been able to make restitution for them or not.

That is because grace is neither lent nor borrowed.

It is God’s enduring gift to His undeserving but ever grateful children.